In this era of “Big Data,” there are companies which specialize in providing hungry real estate agents with the names and addresses of homeowners with high “sell scores.”
You can tell if you have a high sell score by how many solicitations you have received by letter, postcard, phone call, text message or email about selling your home.
If you bought your house in the last year or two, you have a low sell score and probably aren’t getting such solicitations, but if you’ve lived in your house a long time and are of a “certain age” that suggests you are an empty nester, you probably get a lot of solicitations, especially from investors, but also from real estate agents who purchase lists with your name, address and phone number.
And these parties don’t pay much attention to Do Not Call lists.
Licensed real estate agents can subscribe to an app called Forewarn which allows us to get your phone numbers, including cell numbers, just by entering your name and ZIP code. I have this app myself. It’s marketed to us as a safety tool to forewarn us about buyers with criminal records, judgments or liens, etc. Armed with that information, we can decline requests to show listings either because they’re not qualified financially or we suspect they might rob or assault us. To get such details on the app, we enter the phone number which appeared on Caller ID, or we search by name and city or ZIP code, if we know it.
In prospecting, it’s a “numbers game.” It only takes a small percentage of persons to “bite” to make the practice of over-soliciting everyone else worth the time and expense, so there’s little you can do to stop it. However, here’s some practical advice on reducing those solicitations by just a little.
Regarding text messages, replying with “Stop” should at least reduce follow-up texts, and if it’s a robo-text, the computer will probably reply instantly with “You’ve been unsubscribed.” That is my favorite text message to receive!
If it’s a phone solicitation, you can block the number on most cell phones. On my iPhone, after I hang up, I find the number under “Recents” and click on the circled “i” at the right, scroll down and click on “Block this Caller.”
Many email programs also allow you to label an email as “junk” and to block that email address. In Outlook (which I use), the “Junk” designation is at the very left of the “ribbon” at the top of my screen, to the left of the “Delete” icon.
Of course, you can’t do much about letters and cards that you receive by mail other than to ignore and recycle them.
Many real estate agents subscribe to a service which alerts them every time a listing expires on the MLS, and owners of expired listings can expect to be inundated with calls, texts, letters and even door knocks from agents asking if you still want to sell your home and promising to do a better job than your previous listing agent. There’s no way to avoid this onslaught of solicitations. Just know that it’s coming and prepare yourself to say “no” as politely as possible to the live solicitations and to respond that way to text messages and emails. It will only last a few days.
If, however, your listing is “withdrawn” instead of “expired” on the MLS, it’s illegal and unethical for any agent to solicit you. That’s because the definition of “withdrawn” is that your home is subject to a valid listing agreement but merely withdrawn from the MLS. Note, however, that when the expiration date of your listing agreement arrives, the MLS will automatically change your listing status from “withdrawn” to “expired,” and the onslaught of solicitations will begin the next morning.
I don’t want to end this article without assuring you that none of the agents at Golden Real Estate engage in the kinds of solicitation described above. Thanks to our form of advertising (this newspaper column), we depend on prospects contacting us rather than us soliciting you. I myself have been licensed since 2002 and don’t recall ever making a “cold call” or sending a single card or letter soliciting a listing from a homeowner.
Unfortunately, that is unusual in our industry, and I apologize for the behavior of those other real estate practitioners.